Monday, December 10, 2012

Down Through the Chimney Comes Wotan

No poetry today but, instead, a bit of interesting history and mythology.

Recently I've been reading The Saxon Stories. A book series by Bernard Cornwell about the Danish invasion of Britain.

As you might imagine - if you had a lot of time on your hands and few, if any, hobbies - many references are made to Odin, the Norse god of war...and poetry.

The story goes that Odin, father of Marvel comics hero Thor, exchanged an eye for a long pull from the Well of Knowledge - and the gift of poetry. Which made me wonder if Odin had any daughters besides The Valkyries.

Because, let's face it, if you're going to have father issues, Poppa might as well have control over victory, death and wisdom...which sounds like a great short story...which led me, as it always does, to The Great Online Repository of all Things Mostly Accurate

There I found something seasonally-appropriate and crazy interesting: modern day Santa Claus is actually modeled after Odin:

Santa Claus is said to be largely based on Odin, merged with the Christian legend of Saint Nicholas of Myra. Most Christmas traditions in Germanic countries derive from celebrations of the pagan winter solstice holiday Yule as a result of the gradual merging of the two holidays.
Odin was recorded as leading a great Yule hunting party through the sky. Two books from Iceland... describe Odin as riding an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir that could leap great distances, giving rise to comparisons to Santa Claus's reindeer. 
(Furthermore) children would place their boots, filled with carrotsstraw, or sugar, near the chimney for Odin's flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would then reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnir's food with gifts or candy. This practice, she claims, survived in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands after the adoption of Christianity and became associated with Saint Nicholas as a result of the process of Christianization and can be still seen in the modern practice of the hanging of stockings at the chimney in some homes.

Who knew?
Need a bit more timely geek goodness? Here's a tie-in with Gandalf:
In a letter of 1946 J.R.R. Tolkien stated that he thought of Gandalf as an "Odinic wanderer." Other commentators have also compared Gandalf to Odin in his "Wanderer" guise – an old man with one eye, a long white beard, a wide brimmed hat, and a staff.

Just to tie it all up neatly with a bow on top, Tolkien wrote a poem that beings in a familiar way.

Ho! Ho! Ho! To the bottle I go
To heal my heart and drown my woe
Rain may fall, and wind may blow
And many miles be still to go
But under a tall tree will I lie
And let the clouds go sailing by.

― J.R.R. TolkienHo! Ho! Ho! To the Bottle I Go, a poem found within the chapter, "A Shortcut to Mushrooms" from The Fellowship of the Ring.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Poppies and Dumplings

And there it is - nine days into Nablopomo we scuttled our own best efforts to achieve optimal success. (Failed)

But we're going to push forward here at Righteous Polka. Just because we're no longer in contention for a wreath of laurels - or jpg Badge of Completion - doesn't mean we give up. We have nothing if not a fighting - some might say combative - spirit.

Which brings us to today, Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in British Commonwealth countries.

A little background for the history-averse: On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month an agreement, The Armistice, was signed by The Allies and Germany, signaling the end of World War One.

"At 11 a.m. on 11th November 1918, the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years continuous warfare.

Originally the day was known as Armistice Day but was renamed Remembrance Day after the Second World War." A war, you'll remember, also lost by Germany.

The strange thing is that I'm in Germany today, where St. Martin's Day (Martinstag/Martinmas) is celebrated on 11 November, and the focus is on goose and dumplings, not on poppies and wreathes and memorials.

And that feels surreal.

It isn't strange because I usually walk around with a paper poppy tucked into my coat lapel (Americans appreciate the tradition but don't follow it) or because I'm Outstandingly Patriotic.

It's the sitting here, with and among the descendants of the Other survivors and casualties of both World Wars. The soldiers whose military lives we watch, dramatized and reenacted on The History Channel.

Those Guys. The Bad Guys. Who, in reality, were not bad. The vast, vast majority of them were scared kids, following orders, just like our guys, The Good Guys.

Here I sit and watch children, grandchildren, great-great grandchildren go about their Sunday business presumably oblivious to the non-goose-related meaning of today and I wonder: When do they venerate their war dead? I have no idea. Just as they, probably, have no idea.

Yeah, completely surreal.

The City's Oldest Known Survivor of the Great War
By James Doyle
marches in uniform down the traffic stripe
at the center of the street, counts time
to the unseen web that has rearranged
the air around him, his left hand
stiff as a leather strap along his side,
the other saluting right through the decades
as if they weren't there, as if everyone under ninety
were pervasive fog the morning would dispel
in its own good time, as if the high school band
all flapping thighs and cuffs behind him
were as ghostly as the tumbleweed on every road
dead-ended in the present, all the ancient infantry
shoulder right, through a skein of bone, presenting arms
across the drift, nothing but empty graves now
to round off another century,
the sweet honey of the old cadence, the streets
going by at attention, the banners glistening with dew,
the wives and children blowing kisses.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Alabama Poet Laureate

This week Governor Robert Bentley commissioned Andrew Glaze, former Pulitzer Prize contender, as the state's Poet Laureate. Glaze will serve a 4-year term beginning in 2013.

About him, Robert Frost wrote, “I have high hopes for Mr. Glaze.” 

You see? Not all Alabama poetry is set to music...unfortunately Mr. Glaze is actually (shhhh!) a native Nashvillian, but graduated from Ramsay High School in Birmingham.

I wanted to post one of his poems, but cannot location one online.

And I can't hold my eyes open. So this is it. The lamest post of Nablopomo. 

You knew it had to happen eventually.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

With Me

It seems that every hobby, passion and special interest is shared and supported by a community.

Either online or in person, fighting beetle breeders, carved egg shell collectors and noodlers congregate and compare notes. They share tips and tricks, war stories and rare finds.

People who play with words are no different. Loathe as I generally am to get involved with organized anything, I find that I love spending time with other word people. Word people who are better with words than I am. Wordsmiths.

One of the loveliest, kindest, most generous and clever wordsmiths I know is Brooke. She recently married a truly good guy and wrote this poem for their wedding ceremony - and she has deigned to share it with us.

Brooke is a colleague and a friend, and this is her submission to Righteous Poetry Month.

by Brooke Bullman

Come walk with me
by the low unbroken fields
up the trail to wild wood
through the sand on gray rain beaches.

Be with me
in the light of every morning
in stony rivers cold and pure
in mountain balds of laurel, azalea, and sun.

Talk with me
while dinners are made
gold buttons are stitched
and children are held and soothed.

Stay with me
beneath dark new moons
down dim and lonesome roads
and through adventures lost.

Go with me
to the places on our lists
off the pale and sleeping maps
to thresholds of unimagined dreams.
Together we’ll go.
Places new, old, dark, bright, misty, unknown,
Go with me there—
together we are home.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Prose

Everyone is busy watching exit polling this evening - present company included - so  let's take a quick look at a poetry format that doesn't require much explanation.

Free Verse is the great equalizer of poetry. It demands no meter, no rhyme and no specific pattern. Even if you have a tin ear and can't dance you can write a free verse poem.

Free verse is not my favorite format, but as a fan of the pragmatic I appreciate the straightforward way it tells a story...especially on Election Day when everyone is looking for  little less B.S.

My Mother Goes to Vote
By Judith Harris

We walked five blocks
to the elementary school,
my mother’s high heels
crunching through playground gravel.
We entered through a side door.

Down the long corridor,
decorated with Halloween masks,
health department safety posters—
we followed the arrows
to the third grade classroom.

My mother stepped alone
into the booth, pulling the curtain behind her.
I could see only the backs of her
calves in crinkled nylons.

A partial vanishing, then reappearing
pocketbook crooked on her elbow,
our mayor’s button pinned to her lapel.
Even then I could see—to choose
is to follow what has already
been decided.

We marched back out
finding a new way back down streets
named for flowers
and accomplished men.
I said their names out loud, as we found

our way home, to the cramped house,
the devoted porch light left on,
the customary meatloaf.
I remember, in the classroom converted
into a voting place—
there were two mothers, conversing,
squeezed into the children’s desk chairs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Poetry Rock Stars You Should Know - Part I

“What you have to realize when you write poetry, or if you love poetry, is that poetry is just naturally the greatest god damn thing that ever was in the whole universe” - James Dickey

Southern poet James Lafayette Dickey (Lafayette gave him away as a Southerner, didn't it?) was the eighteenth United States Poet Laureate - then known as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress.

He was the kind of poet college football fans could really get behind. According to The Great Online Repository of all Things Mostly Accurate:

In 1942 he enrolled at Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina and played on the football team as a tailback. After one semester, he left school to enlist in the Army Air Corps...Between the wars he attended Vanderbilt University, graduating with degrees in English and philosophy, as well as minoring in astronomy. He also taught at the University of Florida.

Dickey was invited to read his poem "The Strength of Fields" at President Jimmy Carter's inauguration in 1977.

"The Strength of Fields" is not what anyone would consider an entry-level poem, so I leave you with an except from his work "The Hospital Window" to which many of us - unfortunately - can relate.

by James L. Dickey

I have just come down from my father.

Higher and higher he lies
Above me in a blue light
Shed by a tinted window.
I drop through six white floors
And then step out onto pavement.

Still feeling my father ascend,

I start to cross the firm street,
My shoulder blades shining with all
The glass the huge building can raise.
Now I must turn round and face it,
And know his one pane from the others.

Each window possesses the sun

As though it burned there on a wick.
I wave, like a man catching fire.
All the deep-dyed windowpanes flash,
And, behind them, all the white rooms
They turn to the color of Heaven.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dragon Poems

A confluence of random things conspired to bring me to today's poem about a dragon:

1. Season 5 of Merlin on BBC.
2. A t-tiny soft spot in my cold, black heart for light verse.
3. ....and Ogend Nash
4. I finally watched "How to Train Your Dragon."

Today's poem is brought to you by the letter D.

By Ogden Nash

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
And Blink said Week!, which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.

Belinda paled, and she cried, Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.

But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.

The pirate gaped at Belinda's dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets but they didn't hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pyrate.

Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Monday's Child

I was seriously surprised to learn that very few of my coworkers have heard this rhyme; since that conversation I've been asking random acquaintances if they know it.  While I've found a few people who are vaguely familiar with it, I haven't found anyone yet who knows Monday's Child - any of the versions - by heart.

This is curious to me. Hmmm - a puzzle!

 I don't think it's generational because just as many Gen X-ers as Gen Y and Millennials are unfamiliar with it. And I don't think its a Northern Thing because half the people I've polled are from north, or west, of Louisville.

Maybe it's only known these days in the Great Lakes region or around Chicago? Maybe only my people remember it. My grandfather's family is from northern England (Derbyshire) and Monday's Child originated in Devonshire...which is in the opposite end of the country, so that's a pretty leaky theory.

Most likely only rhyme-nerds with a fondness for English history can recite it on cue....

Monday's Child is actually considered a nursery rhyme, not a poem, but what's the difference? The meter repeats and it rhymes, so it's a poem says I.

To prevent this from becoming a nutrition-free junk food kind of post, here's a bit of history courtesy of Wikipedia:

"This rhyme was first recorded in A. E. Bray's Traditions of Devonshire in 1838, although the tradition of fortune telling by days of birth is much older. Stories told to young people in Suffolk in the 1570s included telling what luck one should have by the day of the week on which s/he was born."

Monday's Child (aka Saturday's Child)

Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Friday, November 2, 2012

And Miles to Go

Photo Credit: Valentina Ceccatelli

I used to hate poetry.

More accurately, I was too lazy for poetry. I didn't deserve poetry.

"It's not you, Haiku, it's me."

Do you remember that time in your life when you  were just too self-centered to really be useful to anyone? Maybe it started when you became a teenager and lasted until you graduated from school at...whatever age.

For me that period lasted, basically, from age 12 until 35. It was during this chunk of time that I just couldn't be there for poetry, you know?

So despite exhibiting signs of sheer poetic genius at an early age, and borrowing a book of  Shakespeare's sonnets from the library SO many times over the summer break between fifth and six grades that the librarian finally told me, "Just hold onto it until you're through" I didn't take much notice of poetry after age 11.

Except, of course, in high school where you really can't avoid things like essays and novellas and poetry. I remember an in-class exercise, with all the accompanying moaning and groaning, wherein we deconstructed "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening."

We'd dragged our desks into a circle and gone around the room talking about the contrasts in the poem and the real meaning behind the words.

All the while I was thinking, "Jesus and all the Saints, who cares about the contradictions? Why can't we just read the poem? It's about snow! And a horse! Leave it alone!"

As it turns out, my adolescent reaction was not unique. At least, that's what Billy Collins says.

The explanation of how I finally - and very recently - came around to poetry is a story for another day.

In the meantime, read this funny little poem.
Enjoy it and try not to read too much into it - sometimes rope is  just rope.

Introduction to Poetry, by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem   
and hold it up to the light   
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem   
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room   
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski   
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope   
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose   
to find out what it really means.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

National Poetry Month

...isn't until next April.

In the meantime we here at Righteous Polka are celebrating our OWN Poetry Month and syncing it with with National Blog Posting Month to create:

Thirty Righteous Poems in Thirty Righteous Days

Just imagine it! Thirty days of epic-ish poetry delivered directly to your Facebook page or RSS feed! For free! And look! Six exclamatory statements in one paragraph! It's madness!

Let's get the party started with a slam poem:

Definitions -  by Rudy Francisco

Envy is when someone walks around with a pocket full of “that should’ve been me”
Hate is what happens when you put a shotgun to the face of understanding and it cowers in the corner
Truth  is everything you tell yourself when you realize that no one is looking
Courage is ripping your heart from your chest and saying “here…hold on to this for me”
Trust is when you jump into someone’s arms knowing they would never let you hit the ground
Love is a tablespoon of hemlock I’ve been dying to try
Faith is doing what you love for a living and watching the bills pay themselves
Failure is when you talk yourself out of becoming something amazing

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I love word puzzles. You can keep your Sudoku and your "If two trains leave the station traveling at 50 mph when do they collide in a mass of twisted steel?"

Give me a crossword puzzle or an episode of Sunday Puzzler  and I'm as happy as a lark.

Introduce me to an imperious poem format, playing hard-to-get, and I'm a goner.

Add a juicy prompt to that cock-sure poetic form and I lose the ability to focus on anything other than Solving the Word Mystery. It's like trying to keep Velma Dinkley away from a Haunted House. It can't be done.

So imagine my nerdy rapture when I found the perfect haughty form and an irresistible prompt in the same week.

The poem format is the Dorsimbra and  was created by three lovely, I'm sure, masochists - Eve Braden, Frieda Dorris and Robert Simonton - either on a bet or after a long night of sitting too near a simmering batch of meth. It is a 12-line prose poem incorporating blank verse, free verse, envelope verse and Sicilian Quatrain.

First 4-line stanza: Iambic Pentameter, rhyming ABAB
Second 4-line stanza: Free Verse
Third 4-line stanza: Blank Verse

Oh, and the 12th line should repeat the first line, and it should all make perfect, seamless sense.

The prompt came from the tremendously talented organizers of a local spoken word group, Boxcar Voices. The theme of their October performance was "Murder. Macabre."

Who, I ask you, can resist a word like Macabre?

The following poem is the result of Dorsimbra + Macabre. Please be gentle as she is a work in progress. The last stanza needs to be reengineered so as to repeat the first line, but I was working on a deadline and nailing the iambic pentameter was all I could manage.

Danse Macabre

The Angel of Death so light on his feet
begs of you one dance on this your last night.
You draw a last breath and rise from your seat
enthralled, entranced, moving toward his dark light.

Beneath a chandelier of skulls he takes your hand
shakes back a velvet sleeve and pulls you near.
As he spins your fragile form in a waltz across the floor
other specters, in respect, step aside.

When, at last, thoracic music ceases
your pensive partner bows to brush pale lips
and takes away so gently carnal life
leaving your soul to cross the river Styx.
Copyright RighteousPolka 2012 

A note to Amy and Fabs (aka the only people who read this blog, and I'm fine with that): November is NaBloPoMo and I will endeavor to post an interesting (not original) poem every day for 30 days. Meh, I may throw in something hand-crafted. Maybe a random haiku? We'll see - stay tuned.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I am surprisingly - shockingly - homesick today and attribute it to the cool, grey gloom.

Nothing chants "Chicago Chicago Chicago" as steadily or persistently as bad weather.

The upside of a fit of meteorologically-induced melancholy is that it makes me curious. A hint of longing sends me snooping through dark, dank parts of my brain.

So, as is habit when self awareness sneaks up on me, I set out this morning in search of a poem to help sort through what I'm feeling. Unsurprisingly, Longfellow and Frost met me first.

A feeling of sadness and longing,
that is not akin to pain
and resembles sorrow only
as the mist resembles rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
some simple and heartfelt lay
that shall soothe this restless feeling
and banish the thoughts of day. 
- From The Day is Done, HW Longfellow

"A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It finds the thought and the thought finds the words." - Robert Frost

I would love to find the words to express longing and homesickness in my own terms rather than relying on the rhymes of dead white guys. But, dammit, they aren't there. In a Sisyphean game of Hide-and-Seek (that's right, I mashed up mythology and recess) words lie low in the dark, dusty places. Over and over I almost but. not. quite. find them. It's maddening.

Frequently when you grow up in Chicago, the first poet you study is Carl Sandburg. I'm fairly certain the themes and straightforward language of his work influenced my preference for pragmatic poetry. To this day every time - every time - the weather is soft and thick I think of this poem. It reminds me of being small and fishing with my step-father at a downtown marina.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Mister Lewis, another favorite, gets the last word on this whole melancholy mess:

"Our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fantasy, but the truest index of our real situation."
-  C.S. Lewis

Saturday, August 25, 2012


As much as I want to rail and wail and scream and stomp my blog feet about the women-hating horse crap that headlined the news this week - and has been trending all year - this is not the appropriate forum.

The correct forum would have been The Old Blog, with Country Girl. The nonstop rant-fest I miss every. damn. day. 

But here I want to focus on writing and poetry, and share these lovely things with you.

Poetry is often considered a more acceptable - and let's face it, attractive - way of communicating things we shouldn't discuss in polite company. It also comes in handy when we can't manage to find words of our own to express ourselves.

It's the vehicle of choice for angst-ridden teens who scribble away in spiral-bound notebooks they hide under their beds.

It's the device that helped a domestic violence and rape survivor stand behind a microphone and share her secrets and struggles: "This is my therapy." 

It's how young people express feelings they don't completely understand.
Jack and Jill sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. 

And it is absolutely how many adults express feelings they don't completely understand. I would love to know how many relationships began with someone scrawling Roses are Red/Violets are Blue...  on a Post-It note.

So at the close of this Week of Disgust and Anger, I will express myself using a poem instead of the much clumsier semi-articulate rant.

‘Vagina’ Sonnet - Joan Larkin
Is “vagina” suitable for use
in a sonnet? I don’t suppose so.
A famous poet told me, “Vagina’s ugly.”
Meaning, of course, the sound of it. In poems.
Meanwhile, he inserts his penis frequently
into his verse, calling it, seriously, “My
Penis.” It is short, I know, and dignified.
I mean of course the sound of it. In poems.
This whole thing is unfortunate, but petty,
like my hangup concerning English Dept. memos
headed “Mr./Mrs./Miss”–only a fishbone
in the throat of the revolution–
a waste of brains–to be concerned about
this minor issue of my cunt’s good name.

I probably lost a few of you with that last line but, damn, it was worth it.

Reprinted without permission, and begging forgiveness.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Because I'm Bad, I'm Bad, You Know It

In my tireless search for all things poetically accesible I discovered yesterday was National Bad Poetry Day.

How did I hear about this, but you didn't? You must not follow @PeeWeeHerman.

That's right, Pee-Wee gave it a shout out. And you thought there was nothing left to be learned from the man who taught you to dance on a bar and win any argument. Silly reader.

We could debate what defines bad poetry, but that's like arguing about the definition of Art. If after 95 years we're still disagreeing over an autographed urinal, what hope is there that I can even begin to address good and bad in this blog?

Good is in the eye of the beholder and fundamentally bad poetry has a special place in my heart - because I don't know how to write any other kind.

My first attempt at prose is easily among the worst ever written. But when you are ten years old and staring out the window at a darkening sky - you notice the wind picking up before a storm and birds flying their feathers off trying to get to cover - and a rhyme pops into your head for the first time in your Smurf-centric life, it's startling.

The wind blows
The trees sway
Birds fly
It's nature's way.

Profound, yes? But the important thing, to me, is that I remember exactly where I was, what the sky looked like, how I jumped off the couch and dug through my dad's desk for a pen and paper, and documented my first rhyme-y thought.

Maybe your most vivid childhood memory is of learning to ride a bike or ice skate or hold your breath under water. Two of the most crystal-clear High Definition memories of mine are reading a book, cover-to-cover, on my own for the first time  (Hop on Pop) and writing that poem.

So in honor of National Bad Poetry Day I give you what is considered, by several sources, to be the worst poem ever written.

It's so bad, it's actually likable.

A Tragedy by Theophile Marzials
The barges down in the river flop.
Flop, plop,
Above, beneath.
From the slimy branches the grey drips drop...
To the oozy waters, that lounge and flop...
And my head shrieks - "Stop"
And my heart shrieks - "Die."...
Ugh! yet I knew - I knew
If a woman is false can a friend by true?
It was only a lie from beginning to end--
My Devil - My "friend."...
So what do I care,
And my head is empty as air -
I can do,
I can dare
(Plop, plop
The barges flop
Drip, drop.)
I can dare, I can dare!
And let myself all run away with my head
And stop.
Plop, flop,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Forgive Me, Father Ted

It's time for a confession.

I know, I know. We've only been at this for a few days and already a soul-bearing, Oprah-worthy confession?

Well, it may not be worthy of The Other Big O but I should come clean about my intentions regarding your son this blog, ma'am.

I'm not an academician, a poet or a literary guru of any stripe.

What I am is a frustrated Word person. I love Words, as evidenced by the unnecessary capitalization of the word, Word.

I love to read them, write them and play games with them. I believe Words With Friends is the single greatest technological contribution to benefit, if not advancement, of mankind since gun powder...or Doritos.

So the primary, selfish purpose of this blog is to force me to write. I am not controlled enough to journal regularly, but what I lack in discipline I make up for in guilt. If I know someone, anyone (Fabs? Amy?) is reading the blog I will feel obligated to write/journal/create. Practice follows obligation and perhaps improvement follows practice.

The other purpose is to spread the gospel about poetry. I swear on my beaten-to-crap copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, poetry can seriously improve your quality of life.

So here is another lovely, pragmatic poem for you.

Oh, go on and read it - it's about bubble wrap.
Who doesn't love bubble wrap?

Cheap Therapy - Geoff Weilert

When a package arrives I quickly open it wide
And hastily remove all the stuff found inside.
I discard all items except the plastic wrapped
That piece with bubbles in which air is trapped

I spread the sheet and look downward with glee.
And with two fingers, I pop one, two, then three.
I feel quite content and my face gets a glow
I pop some more and move on to the next row.

I'm feeling so good I can't think of stopping
As the room fills with the sounds of popping.
Every worry and care and each little trouble
Floats away with the pop of each air bubble.

When I finally reach the end I feel quite mellow
All that popping has made me a contented fellow.
If you are like me, and contentment is a rarity,
Get some bubble wrap; It's cheaper than therapy.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pragmatic Poetry

Until two years ago I hated poetry.

Go ahead, admit it: At some point in your relationship with Words you hated it too.

You may still hate it.

Poetry  ::eye roll::
It's pompous.
It's random.
It's artsy.
It's feely.
(Have I mentioned pompous?)
It seems random sometimes.

You once had to deconstruct a poem in Sophomore Lit and you still haven't recovered.

To me, and this is my blog so mine is the only vote that counts, a good poem uses plain language and either tells a story or makes a point. It's relatable, understandable and enjoyable.

It's pragmatic.

I think (see "my blog" above) everyone would enjoy poetry if they could be custom fit to it, like a bespoke suit.

Bespoke poetry. I like it. Copyright Righteous Polka....

If there was some sort of Poetry Configuration Tool on Facebook, where a person could complete a profile and be Matched with a selection of poems that fit his or her taste, everyone would 'discover' poetry.

In a crazy dream, becomes the new Pinterest.
"This is my Sonnet board."

Take it to the masses! Make it easy to understand. Show people that writing a poem can be as clear and concise a way of expressing yourself as Twitter.  Heck, haikus are shorter than Twitter posts. #575

I will tell the (mercifully short) story of what changed my mind about poetry, but not today.

Today, you get a poem.

Salad is Incompatible with Life - Mark R. Slaughter 1999

Yes, my waist is fifty inches -
Big for me because I'm short.
And yes, I like my cheddar cheese
When partnered with a vintage port.

Okay, okay, that double cream
Is always served with pud,
And cake and biscuits with my tea
Are just no bloody good

For my poor hardened arteries
But see my point of view,
Please dear wifey if you please,
A Salad makes me spew!

I'd rather eat a bowl of air
Than crunch away on greens;
Drink water from the toilet bowl
Or nibble on my jeans!

But salad! Are you there?
You know it makes me snappy -
So let me fill my face with grub,
Stay fat, and die young happy!